Know your rights: minimum wage, statutory sick pay and holiday entitlement

Know your rights: minimum wage, statutory sick pay and holiday entitlement

When dealing with a new employer or perhaps a disagreement with your manager, it's important you know exactly what you are entitled to. Here is a brief guide to minimum wage, statutory sick pay and holiday allowance.

Minimum Wage

The UK minimum wage is the absolute minimum a worker can be legally paid for their time. There are different tiers of minimum wage dependent on age.

As of April 2019, the minimum wage for anyone over the age of 25 was set at £8.21. This rate is referred to as the main rate and National Living Wage.

Below are all minimum wage breakdowns:

  • 25 and over: £8.21
  • 21-24 years old: £7.70
  • 18-20 years old: £6.51
  • Under 18: £4.35
  • Apprentice: £3.90

These rates are reviewed at the end of every tax year by the Government. Advisory group, Low Pay Commission, offer direction on the matter. They consider elements such as the state of the UK and worldwide economy – how many people are unemployed, how have salaries reflected this, how much are household commodities costing.

Employers not paying the minimum wage will be investigated and fined (if found guilty) by HMRC.

Exceptions to minimum wage: people involved in Government work schemes, work done by prisoners (minimum wage is £4 per week), students on work placement (no minimum wage).

What is the “real living wage”?

The Living Wage Foundation is a charity organisation committed to calculating the realistic cost of living. It includes essentials such as housing costs, travel and childcare.

It estimates that the “real living wage” is £10.55 per hour in London and £9 in the rest of the UK.


Statutory Sick Pay


  • Workers must log the equivalent of 14 hours on minimum wage (at least £188 per week)
  • Must be classed as an employee (someone who works under an employment contract)
  • Must have been ill for at least 4 consecutive days (this can include non-working days)
  • Need to tell their employer they’re ill within 7 days or within the employer’s deadline.
  • Agency workers DO qualify for statutory sick pay


  • You will not receive SSP if you have already used the maximum allowance – 28 weeks
  • Workers are not entitled to sick pay if they are already receiving Statutory Maternity Pay

Linked periods of sickness

If you have had the same illness that has lasted over various amounts of time off, they may be considered ‘linked’. The periods must have lasted for 4 days or more and have happened less than 8 weeks apart.

If you have continual series of linked periods over the course of three consecutive years you are no longer entitled to SSP.

Sick Notes / Fit Notes

You are only required to give an employer a sick note if you over for more than seven days in a row – this does include non-working days.

To obtain a sick note, you can request one from your GP or a hospital doctor. Similar documents can also be obtained at physiotherapists, podiatrists and occupational therapists too, but these can be accepted or rejected at the discretion of your employer. These documents are called Allied Health Professionals (AHP) reports.


Holiday Entitlement

Almost all employees are entitled to statutory leave entitlement or annual leave. For full time staff this equates to a paid 28 days per year (5.6 weeks). Employers can include bank holidays as part of your annual leave.

Employees included are:

  • Agency staff
  • Employees with irregular hours
  • Zero-hour contract staff


Employees have the right to:

  • Get paid annual leave
  • Continue to build up annual leave entitlement while on maternity, paternity or adoption leave
  • Continue to build up leave entitlement while off sick
  • Request to take holiday entitlement at the same time as sick leave

Part-time Workers and Irregular Hours

Part time workers are still entitled to 5.6 weeks of per year, however this will equate to less that 28 days.

If you work irregular hours you are entitled to a certain amount of paid time off for every hour you work.

For more help working out what your hours entitle you to, use the holiday entitlement calculator here.



Emma Richardson